24 March 2007

Getting used to the Mac

I've been rather quiet for the past few days, spending some time tweaking my Mac.

The iMac is a very beautiful machine, with everything housed inside a white 17-inch LCD monitor unit and taking very little space. The minimalist design, much like that of an iPod, is absolutely lovely - maybe I need to write some poetry with my iMac as the inspiration!

And it's working well. Even though I managed to corrupt the operating system (my fault - I didn't dismount the partitioning program before resetting), re-install was a piece of cake, and much cleaner than I could ever dream of in Windows. Otherwise, absolutely zero hiccups.

Speaking of partitioning program (Boot Camp beta), I did use it to install Windows Vista on the Mac, and turn it into a dual-boot system. Windows is working nearly flawlessly, and since it's a clean install, I don't have to deal with all the conflicts by incompatible OEM programs, something that seriously plagued my last computer. I've gotten my games and mapping software working very well in Windows, but that's where I will draw the line - everything else will be done in MacOS.

I am impressed with the programs included with the MacOS - including a text editor (TextEdit) that can open Microsoft Word files. But its limited features means that I need to use the Pages word processor, which came with the shareware iWorks suite ($79 to activate after 30 days), or Microsoft Word itself, which is installed as a 30-day demo and will cost $229 to buy (or $399 if I buy the entire MS Office). Pages has some undesirable quirks, so I will need to spend the big bucks on Word, then upgrade to the full MS Office suite when the next version (natively Intel compatible) comes out later in the year. (My novel work deserves the best word processor possible.) As for other programs, there are photo organization programs (but no editing programs), tons of multimedia stuff, and the Safari browser, which works reasonably well (though Blogger doesn't like it, forcing me to use Firefox). As Apple promised, these programs are well integrated into the system, and don't cause headaches like their PC counterparts often do.

I've also added Quicken, plus a freeware desktop utility. I've also found that uninstalling an application is just the matter of dragging its icon to the trash bin - far superior to Windows, where even using the uninstaller leaves residues in the Registry. I'll add Adobe Photoshop Elements in the near future to add photo editing capability.

All of this is costing me a bundle - $1,700 including tax for the computer, plus $200 for Windows, $229 for Word, $59 for Quicken, and $79 for Photoshop Elements - but I feel that it's money well spent, for a computer that's rock solid, reliable, and pretty at the same time. At least I have a decent tax refund this year that should cover everything...